Canada, USA set up Olympic women's hockey final
Gangneung (South Korea), Feb 19 (AFP) Four-time defending champion Canada and reigning world champion United States advanced to the Pyeongchang Olympic women's hockey final with shutout triumphs today, setting up another showdown for gold between the arch-rivals.
The Canadians stretched their Olympic win streak to 24 games and kept alive their drive for five consecutive gold medals by beating the Olympic Athletes from Russia 5-0. The US women, who haven't won Olympic gold in 20 years, blanked Finland 5-0 to reach Thursday's title game.
"It's honestly a dream come true," US forward Hilary Knight said. "It's the worlds biggest stage. Its the game youve been dreaming of. You have to keep working and do the things you do well."
Only once in Olympic or world championship history has the final not been a US-Canada affair.
Canada needed over-time to beat the Americans in the 2014 Olympic final, but has since dropped three world finals to the Americans.'
"We're confident. Well stick with what has gotten us success the last three years," US forward Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson said. "Well enjoy this. Its what we came here and worked hard for, to put ourselves in position for a gold medal."
Canada's Jennifer Wakefield scored 1:50 into the semi-final and Canadian captain Marie-Philip Poulin netted a backhand 3:10 into the second period to make it 2-0.
Wakefield struck again 1:59 into the third and Emily Clark followed 31 seconds later for a 4-0 Canada lead, and Rebecca Johnston added another with 5:52 remaining. Shannon Szabados made 14 saves in the shutout.
- Gold medal preparation -
Dani Cameranesi scored two goals and goaltender Maddie Rooney made 14 saves in the American triumph. Lamoureux-Davidson, Knight and Gigi Martin also scored as the US women dominated.
"It's spectacular to see our team come out and perform that well because there was a lot of pressure," US coach Robb Stauber said. "This was really a gold medal preparation for us. We had to be ready."
One item of concern for the Americans was the hard hit US captain Meghan Duggan inflicted on Finland's Ronja Savolainen, sending her face-first into the boards.
"Im OK. My head just got hit on the boards. But Im good," Savolainen said. "I was taking so long my feet were pretty cold."
Duggan said she didn't expect an issue regarding a possible ban for the final.
"I don't think so. That's out of our control," Duggan said. "There wasn't a call on the ice. We kept going."
The Americans, who have not won Olympic gold since the first women's tournament in 1998 at Nagano, outshot Canada 45-23 in a group stage matchup last week but lost 2-1.
"We had a lot of point-blank scoring opportunities. Weve got to find a way to get those in the net," Lamoureux-Davidson said.
"When you put 45 shots on goal youve got to be able to put more than one into the net. Weve been focused on what we have to do -- we just have to find a way to finish